Vauxhall International Challenge Match
Scotland 1-1 Canada
Wednesday, 22 March 2017, kick-off 7.45pm
Gordon Strachan’s Scotland side prepared for the crunch tie against Slovenia on Sunday with a 1-1 draw against Canada.
The match offered the manager a chance to further assess and tinker with his team as thoughts now turn to the encounter at Hampden which will prove decisive on the Road to Russia.
Scotland fell behind early on to Canada through Fraser Aird who was a stand-out for the Canucks.
Debutant Tom Cairney then let fly just after the half hour mark and his strike was going wide but Steven Naismith was able to steer it home.
Allan McGregor made his first start for Scotland in almost a year, meanwhile Charlie Mulgrew made a return to centre back, partnering Berra.
Man of the match Ikechi Anya was employed at right-back for the second consecutive game.
The game started off sluggishly but with 10 minutes on the clock Fraser Aird stunned the Easter Road crowd by slamming the ball beyond Allan McGregor.
Fresh from his January move to West Ham, Robert Snodgrass started on the wing for Scotland and he was close to getting on the scoresheet when he sent a swooping cross into the box which evaded everyone and thumped the post.
In form Fulham striker Chris Martin has scored 10 goals this season and after 20 minutes he nearly levelled for Scotland.
Falkirk midfielder Fraser Aird was looking sharp for Canada and he went close to scoring his second when he ghosted beyond the Scotland defence and saw his shot fly wide.
From the goal kick, Canada created another opportunity with Simeon Jackson dipping a shot inches over the bar.
After half an hour, the crowd livened up when Ikechi Anya went on a scintillating run which allowed Scotland to progress up the pitch, leading to the equaliser.
With 34 minutes on the clock Tom Cairney hit a shot from inside the area following a goalmouth stramash and Steven Naismith was able to stick his toe out and divert the ball into the net.
At the break, the scores were level, 1-1 with Barry Bannan and Andy Robertson introduced into the action.
Bannan fired Scotland’s first shot on target in the second period and stung the goalkeeper’s gloves before seeing his rebound fly into the stand behind the goal.
One of the cheers of the night arrived when Hibernian midfielder John McGinn graced the Easter Road turf in a Scotland jersey as opposed to his usual green and white.
Andy Robertson was a stand-out for Scotland in the second half and will have put his marker down for Sunday in a display that was abundant with pinpoint passes and overlapping runs.
12 minutes until full-time and with the clock running down Fraser Aird was again in the thick of things and made Allan McGregor produce a top save to prevent his driving strike find the top corner.
Substitute Jordan Rhodes had a late chance to snatch a Scotland win but failed to gain good connection with the ball from a promising position.
That was to prove the last of the action as all eyes focus on Sunday.
Scotland: McGregor, Anya, Berra, Mulgrew, Wallace (Robertson, 45), Burke (Bannan, 45), Darren Fletcher, Cairney (McGinn 75), Naismith (Rhodes, 61), Snodgrass, Chris Martin (Griffiths, 61).
Unused substitutes: Gordon, Steven Fletcher, Russell Martin, Cooper.
Canada: Thomas (Leutwiler, 45), Ledgerwood, Straith, James, Tissot (Corbin-Ong, 45), Arfield (Trafford, 90), Piette, Aird, Bustos, Jackson (Fisk, 76), Hoilett.
Unused subs: Lefevre, Gasparotto.